A Utah family tried for almost two years to adopt a baby from India. The child was handicapped. It took another local family more than 12 months to adopt a deaf baby from the same country.

What they and thousands of other Utah couples are discovering is that foreign governments don't make "deals" - regardless of the child's health, or its need for a family and home."It takes as long to get a handicapped child as a healthy child," said Elaine Platt, president of Families Involved in Adoption. "And the adoption costs are generally about the same."

The average cost of adopting a child is between $5,000 and $10,000 - a luxury that most middle-class families cannot afford.

Adoptive parents hope that changes when Congress returned from its Lincoln Day recess.

That's when Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will introduce legislation to provide for tax deductions of up to $5,000 for either domestic or foreign adoptions.

Families Involved in Adoption believe passage of the bill will help unite adults seeking children and children seeking parents.

"Many starving children throughout the world are available for adoption, and many Utahns want to adopt them," Platt said. "But because of the high adoption costs, it's difficult to get children and parents together."

The Bountiful mother of 11 feels fortunate. She and her husband have been able to adopt children from Mexico, Colombia, Korea, El Salvador and Brazil. But they've sacrificed to do so. Adoption costs alone exceeded $20,000, and Platt said today's costs have skyrocketed - likely double what they were 10 years ago.

Other couples are financially unable to adopt more than one child because of the prohibitive costs. "I've talked with a lot of people on the phone who would like to give their adoptive child brothers and sisters but simply can't afford it," said Natalie Jenkins. She and husband, Alan, just adopted a baby girl from Colombia. Like other couples, they will be saving for a year or two to afford to adopt a second child.

"I can't stress enough the importance of the family unit to society and our health as a nation," Hatch said. "For many, however, the only way to have a family is through adoption. Incredibly, the biggest problem people face is not finding a child, not raising that child, but it's the financial burden that poses one of the biggest problems in adopting a child."

Hatch has introduced adoption tax-deduction bills since 1983. None have passed.

But the Utah Republican said he feels more confident about passage of this bill because President Bush endorsed the Hatch legislation in his recent budget message.

"The president received a lot of applause when he mentioned adoption," Hatch said. "That applause came from both sides of the aisle."

He said a variety of tax deductions are open to parents who have children biologically, and consideration should be given to those who want to adopt.